Griffons are several closely related mustachioed breeds that are used for a variety of hunting tasks. Among them, there are scenthound breeds and pointers of all sizes. Three Belgian Griffon breeds are particularly small and delight their owners as pure companion dogs. We take a closer look at the dwarves.
What is a Toy Griffon?
About 20 different breeds belong to the Griffon family, with the individual breeds differing in terms of their suitability for hunting, their coat, and their size. Medium-sized and large representatives of the breed can hardly be distinguished from Schnauzers, which also come in three sizes and perform similar tasks when hunting. The toy variants of the Griffons are easily distinguished from other wire-haired toy breeds by their distinctive facial features.
Brussels, Belgian, and Brabant Griffon: Inseparable squishy faces
The three small Griffon companion dog breeds differ only in terms of their fur. Physique, temperament, and health problems are the same for everyone. Although all three are considered distinct breeds, they, therefore, share an FCI standard.
- No specific height at the withers is specified in the breed standard. Measurements at the withers are between 20 and 28 cm. The weight should be between 3.5 and 6 kilograms.
- The relatively large and round head is the most conspicuous distinguishing feature of the dogs with the human face. Belgians and Brussels have long eyebrows and a distinctive beard, the Brabant has short fur and resembles the pug.
- The muzzle is shortened and the nose turns up to the lower eye line. In front of the pronounced stop, the muzzle is only about 1.5 cm long. Also, an underbite is standard for the breed, but the bottom row of teeth should not be visible when the mouth is closed.
- The eyes are almost in line with the nose, they are large and round like a pug. They should be colored as dark as possible and ideally, no white of the eye should be visible.
- The erect ears fold forward and should never be carried hanging down. In Belgium, they are often cropped to form thin erect ears. This practice is forbidden in Germany and should not be supported by puppy purchases!
- Overall, the Minigriffons look very square. The back and loins are short and the croup is wide and flat. Viewed in profile, the broad chest protrudes slightly.
- The front and hind legs are parallel and not too narrow. The paws are small and round.
- The tail is set high and carried curved over the back. The back is not touched by the tip of the rod. Puppies abroad are also often docked here in order to force a finger-length standing tail.
- This practice is also forbidden in Germany.
Coat and Colors – The defining characteristic of the three miniature breeds
Strictly speaking, the three dwarf breeds are just coat varieties that can even be crossed with each other. Depending on how the coat turns out, puppies (also from one litter) are assigned as follows:
- Petit Brabançon: Short, harsh hair, maximum 2 cm in length. He can be colored red or black and wears a black mask (black coloring from eyebrows to chin)
- Griffon Belge: Wire-haired with a beard, the coat color is black or black with tan markings
- Griffon Bruxellois: Wire-haired with a beard, the coat is red or reddish with a dark tinge.
Differences between Pygmy Griffons and other Griffon breeds
Outwardly, dwarf griffons differ significantly from their larger ancestors. High-legged breeds such as the Briquet Griffon Vendéen and Griffon Nivernais measure up to 62 cm at the withers. Small hunting griffons like the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen have an elongated physique and look similar to the German wire-haired dachshund. Compared to other toy breeds, Toy Griffons don’t look dainty, but you can clearly see that they weren’t created for hunting like all other members of the group.
The Little Carriage Dog from Brussels
For centuries, a very special type of dog was found in the regions around the Belgian capital of Brussels: the mouse accompanied many traders and coachmen – he guarded horses and merchandise on the coaches and kept the stables free of rats. As the name suggests, he was also considered an amusing cuddle dog.
The start of a career as a companion dog
In the 19th century, the shape of the Smousje dogs changed due to crossings with other toy breeds such as King Charles Spaniel and the Pug. This is how today’s three Griffon breeds came about, which have been bred with Standard since 1883 and were marketed internationally by Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium, among others.
The Griffon family
The dwarfs from Belgium are only distantly related to hunting griffons. Bred for welding or pointing, they have not shared their duties with their little cousins for centuries.